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Is it Wrong to Hate a Toddler?

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Guest blogger Maternally Yours: Last weekend my husband, daughter and I were invited to dinner at our dear friends' house. It would be good to see them - them being my BFF Trish, her husband Dan and their 3-year-old daughter Kate. I should've been jumping at the opportunity; we hadn't seen them socially in many months and we all shared a passion for good food, good wine and good gossip. But as the weekend approached I was becoming more anxious at the idea of spending an evening with them. It was time I faced the ugly truth that while I love Trish, I hate her kid. There, I said it. I knew that it would be an evening of torture watching her darling demon terrorize my Abigail.

woman with a headache and a screaming toddler

My friendship with Trish wasn't always so complicated. We had our daughters within several months of each other -- bonding over our shared experiences of new motherhood. While Abigail was always a very mellow, easy baby, it became clear early on that Kate was going to be a challenge. She was the type of baby only a mother could love. Trish and I joined a new moms group with playgroups once a week. Once Kate started walking the trouble began. She was overly aggressive - robbing my girl of every object she could get her hands on. The other children in the group learned quickly when it came to Kate - hold on tight to what you've got! Every time a toy was ripped from her hands, Abigail would find something else to play with but, because Kate has the attention span of a gnat, she would only want what Abigail had. A pattern started forming -- Kate would zero in on my daughter until she had nothing left to play with but dust balls.

And what was Trish doing all this time? Well she sure wasn't prying the toys out of Kate's hands. Instead she was reminding her daughter of the importance of sharing. How about we up the discipline a notch and snag the toys from her greedy little mitts? Kate's behavior felt like to a dog marking his territory. If I'm sharing food with Abigail, Kate only wants to mooch off me. If Abigail is sitting in my lap, Kate - who normally couldn't give a rat's ass about me -- suddenly wants to get cozy and hip checks Abigail onto the floor. Then, when I remove Kate and put my own daughter back in my lap -- I look like a baby hater!

No one wants to see their child at the bottom of the food chain but that's where I was afraid Abigail was headed. She would immediately get off a beanbag chair or tricycle the minute she saw Kate charging her way and she would hand over a toy before it could be taken from her. Trish was blind to what was going on and I was a weakling for not sticking up for my daughter. Because I had let it simmer for so long, I didn't trust myself to put it diplomatically. I didn't know if our friendship could survive it. I rejoiced when Trish went back to work and peace prevailed at our playgroups.

So when we finally showed up for dinner last week, Abigail was met with much of the same from Kate, only this time Abigail held her ground for most of it. In the time away she learned to stand up for herself. And time away from Trish has me wondering if maybe she's not the greatest friend out there. Sure, I stepped it up and intervened on my daughter's behalf when I had to, but I didn't like doing it and I shouldn't have had to.

If your kid's a bully, it's not cute and it's not funny. Nature, nurture - a child's personality is a real crap shoot but that doesn't absolve us from teaching them right from wrong.

Before I had my baby, I didn't really like kids much. I always thought that once I became a mother I would have some sort of epiphany and embrace all the world's children. But now that I'm being exposed to them like never before, I realize that's never going to happen. And I'm okay with that.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
MrsEmbers February 27, 2009, 3:57 PM

I can understand how you feel- I had problems with my niece when we lived near them, and it frustrated me that my brother didn’t discipline her the way I would… funny, eh? I realize that it’s stupid, but there it is.

If I were you, I’d talk to Trish, but preferably some time when the kids aren’t around- it might be easier then. If this is hurting your friendship anyway, you don’t have a lot to lose, and things might get better.

Best of luck!

Kristen March 1, 2009, 7:08 AM

I think most moms have encountered this situation at one time or another and you either have to decide to speak up and if the other mom doesn’t take it well then you might lose the friendship but if you don’t speak up you might lose it anyways because you are backing off so much.
I have been in this situation and it is not an easy one. I decided to speak up and though it was hard at first and weird between us we made it work out.
Best of luck.

Maria@Conversations with Moms March 1, 2009, 2:30 PM

I’m in the same situation with my nephew. My nephew is a real bully with my son. They are both 4 yrs old and my nephew DOES NOT like to share.

I tried talking to my sister but it didn’t really work. So now I just stop his bad behaviour when it is directed at my son.

lawr4ebss March 2, 2009, 9:03 AM

Why did she post her personal ad on a celebrities and wealthy website named “————”.. Is she still a single?

maeby March 2, 2009, 12:05 PM

Here’s the thing. I’m on the other side.
My 3 year old used to be the sweetest thing in the world. he was everyones (friends, family) favorite, just a great funny kid. That was until i had my 8 month old. Now my 3yo is Trish’s kid. I dont treat him any differently than the rest. AT ALL. he just suddenly turned into a terror. He knows right from wrong and i punish him and teach him lessons and all that. I’m not a terrible mom, he’s just got that kind of personality now. He can be a total punk. I’m not sure if its the age thing or the middle child thing or maybe something else! but im torn between just keeping him home or going out to a playground and risking him smacking someone else (we dont spank)and taking their toys! Its really hard for me because i dont want them to think im not caring for my son. Maybe Trish’s kid is like mine and just testing bounderies?

Kelli March 3, 2009, 5:23 PM

I don’t see anything wrong with that. I can’t stand my two year old sometimes. We all know some of the things you hate the most she will grow out of and Abigail and Kate will love to be together.

littlepeapie March 3, 2009, 9:11 PM

I have a similar situation. I’ve just started avoiding the mom and the kid. We’ve tried multiple playdates and her kid only terrorizes mine. The last time we visited, her kid pushed mine off a stool and she did nothing. Nothing. That did it for me.

Name withheld to protect the innocent March 5, 2009, 12:50 PM

I don’t have kids but my friend’s 4 year old is really bratty! We all went to dinner one night and my hubby asked the 4 y/o what she was going to go have for dinner and she screamed and yelled at him. My friend did nothing. When we all got together to play (grown-up) games she stood in the way and wouldn’t let others playing take their turn. When someone said “excuse me” to her, she screamed and cried. My friend did nothing but give people dirty looks and hug her. It’s uncomfortable. I never know what to say.

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Mom of 2 July 22, 2010, 11:47 AM

WOW! I feel s sorry for the little girl you hate. She obviously LOVES your daughter and wants to interact with her. You should really act like an adult and talk to your so-called BFF frankly. And what you wrote about how before you had a kid you hated them - not much has changed, has it?
I just hope your perfect angel doesn’t learn from your behavior.

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